Law lords on the move…

Lord Norton

_44126428_lords_chamber_203x152There was a judicial sitting of the House yesterday morning.  It followed the usual procedures.  However, upstairs on the second floor where the law lords are located, everything is not as usual.  Packing is already under way in preparation for the move to the Supreme Court.

The House will rise in just over two weeks.  When we resume in October, the law lords will have decanted the building.   As a result of assiduous research  (I bumped into a law lord in the lift) I have some knowledge of the timescale: ‘The crates arrive on 15 July’.  

I for one will be sorry to see the law lords go.  There has been a benefit having them located in the Palace, a benefit for us and I believe for them.  I was not persuaded of the case for the change.  Neither were several of the law lords.   Although there is no significant change in powers – the move is primarily physical – I nonetheless fear that it may result in some change in the relationship between the court and the executive, leaving the court exposed without the House of Lords being able to act as something of a buffer between the two.   We shall see.

12 comments for “Law lords on the move…

  1. 02/07/2009 at 7:23 pm

    Hope non-one minds a little off-topic conversation: it’s a small world, Lord Norton (in Drupal’s chat room):

    philipnorton42 entered the room.

    liammcdermott: philipnorton42: I’m going to assume you’re *not* Lord Norton?

    liammcdermott: It would be cool to have a peer of the realm using Drupal though. 🙂

    philipnorton42: Lord Norton of Louth? Nope! 🙂

    liammcdermott: Shame!

    liammcdermott: Oh well. 🙂

    philipnorton42: i’ve been trying to beat him on Google for years.

    Seems you are beating him on Google, Lord Norton. Shame you don’t post on here under that name, you’d really have him licked!

  2. Senex
    02/07/2009 at 7:30 pm

    Sad indeed! All part of the Commons agenda for a (banana) Republic.

  3. Bedd Gelert
    03/07/2009 at 9:34 am

    Another fan of Jack Straw..

    “the law lords will have decanted the building..” – Surely ‘decamped from the building ? Oh well, you know best.

    • Matt Korris
      03/07/2009 at 10:08 am

      Perhpas Lord Norton was comparing the Law Lords to fine vintage wine…

      Matt Korris
      Hansard Society

      • Bedd Gelert
        03/07/2009 at 12:46 pm

        Or perhaps he his hoping that they will be able to remove some of the dregs they have been lumbered with recently, and remove the detritus when they leave…

        As for the fatuous title of ‘Supreme Court’, one suspects this is just more evidence of New Labour politicians spending far too much time watching DVD boxed sets of the ‘West Wing’..

  4. 03/07/2009 at 12:07 pm

    So the Law Lords weren’t happy with their new address of Little George Street [they are asking the Royal Mail to create 1 Parliament Square], they werent happy with their .gov web address, and several of them werent persuaded of the need to move in any event.

    They don’t sound like happy campers to me.

  5. lordnorton
    04/07/2009 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks for the responses. Liam: Thank you for that information. I should perhaps add (knowing the sort of things my friends assume about me) that I have achieved the distinction you mention without ever having Googled my own name.

    Bedd Gelert: I fear Matt Korris got in first with the comment I intended to make.

    Senex, Bedd Gelert and CMetcalfe: As you know from the post, I am not happy with the move either. It is not clear that it achieves a great deal and may create problems of its own: not only in terms of cost (litigants will pay increased fees to cover the running costs) but also in terms of popular misunderstanding – the danger is that people will make the assumption, quite naturally, that the Supreme Court has powers similar to its American namesake. I have been struck by the number of people who have assumed that the move from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court entails a significant change in powers.

    • 15/07/2009 at 10:31 pm

      Sorry to dig up a two-week old post, but today the BBC had an item on the Supreme Court, with the slightly unfortunate sentence:

      “In this sense, the court will operate along similar lines to the US Supreme Court which, at national level, issues critical judgements from Washington on major issues, despite individual states retaining the responsibility for a lot of their local laws.”

      I think this is implying the sort of change of powers you refer to above, whereas in fact the way judgements affect lower courts will be no different from today.

      • lordnorton
        16/07/2009 at 7:39 am

        Jonathan: Thanks for that. I rest my case.

  6. lordnorton
    04/07/2009 at 6:46 pm

    CMetcalfe: I would add that I fully understand why the law lords were not happy with the .gov web address. The argument for making the change was to make clear the separation of powers, yet the new court was then given a government web address.

  7. 04/07/2009 at 10:43 pm

    I’m sure the Supreme Court will have a address rather than .gov, otherwise not only will people assume it has the powers of its American counterpart, but also that it’s located in America!

    It does seem a little odd that Parliament, the NHS, the police and the British Library have their own SLDs, yet the Supreme Court – and the royal family – do not. Perhaps we need a neutral SLD to replace that can be used for all these things. Maybe (for “admin”) or something like that.

    Maybe the court should have been called the Little George Court, so as not to delude people as to its powers!

    From Jonathan (who is the top result for his name search in both and .uk!)

  8. lordnorton
    10/07/2009 at 11:35 am

    Jonathan: Thanks for your comment. Your point about a neutral SLD is a very good one.

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